Jerry Glanvile enters his third season as Portland State's head coach with the most returning starters in his tenure, but there are still a plothera of young players scattered throughout the depth chart. Here are five players who could make a difference in Saturday's game:
Drew Hubel, Junior, Quarterback
Hubel enters his junior season at Portland State with his name already etched into the all-time passing lists for the Vikings. He holds school records for most passing yards in a game (623), completions in a game (44), and holds an all-time Big Sky record for touchdowns in a game (9). Although PSU head coach Jerry Glanville has stated that the Vikings will run the ball more in 2009, Hubel still possesses a serious threat for the inexperienced Oregon State secondary, which is looking to debut by limiting what Hubel can do through the air. Hubel threw for 2,912 yards last season with 18 touchdowns, yet threw 15 interceptions.
Bobby McClintock, Senior, Running Back
If the Vikings really do want to get more out of their rushing game this season, senior fullback Bobby McClintock will have to carry the load. At 5-10, 240 pounds, McClintock rushed the ball 93 yards for 457 yards and is PSU's leading returning rusher. He's fully healthy after reconstructive knee surgery cut his sophomore season short, and he promises that the Vikings will better on offense this season: "I think the new wrinkles on offense will definitely throw some curveballs at teams. Defenses won't be able to just sit back on the pass and ... I think it will just improve everything on offense."
Aaron Woods, Senior, Wide Receiver
Aaron Woods was a big reason why Drew Hubel had such a prolific season passing the ball in 2008. As a junior, Woods reeled in 66 catches for 1,028 yards and scored 6 touchdowns. He led the conference in all-purpose yards as well, doubling as a kick returner. Oh, and did we mention that at 5-6, 180 pounds, he's the smallest player on the team?
DeShawn Shead, Sophomore, Cornerback
As a redshirt freshman last season, Shead led the Big Sky Conference in interceptions (6) while breaking up seven passes and making 51 tackles. He'll need to step up and be the leader of the secondary as a sophomore in a mostly experienced group. He'll be looking to make another run at All-Big Sky post-season awards.
Erik Pedersen, Senior, Linebacker
Pedersen returns as the leading returning tackler for Portland State entering the season. His 84 tackles from a year ago were good enough for second on the team behind the departed Andy Schantz. He has 119 tackles in his Portland State career, and will lead the Vikings on defense.